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Scanning High Quality Images

Contacts in South Florida:

I've been working with a library of images made available by a magazine publication group and in this experience have gained a little knowledge of scanning technology. This is meant to summarize what I've learned or concluded.

It also seems useful to point out that it is my point of view that source materials should be stored in high quality and easily convertable formats which allow for many uses of the image. Source art should be defined as the highest quality digital image, often a tif file. Web site management should be designed to use these high quality source materials in a way that balances the need for creative talent with the desire to minimize human labor requirements in creating and maintaining the website.

Information has been obtained from two image processing service organizations. One of the organizations is the one who prepares images for the magazine group and the other is the one used by the Morikami Museum. I'll refer to them as RC and SP since I've not asked them for permission to put the information given to me in this web page.

Both use drum scanners. RC told me his is a Heidelburg 350 (German) which originally cost $300,000 but since costs have come down could be bought today for $150,000. He scans at 300 dpi for magazine use. He helped with language, saying scanners are of two sorts, a reflective scanner is one which scans prints while a transparency scanner is used for transparencies. Some scanners will handle both, or an adapter can be bought so it can handle both. He stressed that a color negative is not good as source material as it must first be converted to a positive tranparency. His source material is most often 4 color 25x38mm transparencies, but he'd have no trouble using 4x5 transparencies. Scanners which claim to have color conversion are not likely to do a good job.

The Yamada Baske images were scanned by "SP" from 4x5 transparencies to 35mm slides and then the slides were scanned to digital images at "Boca Blueprint". SP uses a drum scanner from Imapro of Canada. SP said proportions would not convert precisely, so we should choose to either crop the 4x5 image to fit the proportions of a slide or we should expect that the ends of the slides would be black where the image ends. RC quoted $25 for one scan with a possible reduction to $18-20 each in quantities of 25 or 30 provided that he knew the customer. He does not discount for new customers. (Scans would be 300 dpi.) I have nearly 1000 digital image files from RC. All are tifs and size is 25mb to 75mb.

SP said 25 transparencies converted to digital images would cost $10/each with no discount for quantity. Resolution would be 1000-2000. Resolution of 1000 probably result in a 50mb digital file.

SP said that 25 4x5 transparencies converted to slides would cost $6/each for 1, less 20% for a quantity of 25.

There are many scanners costing under $1000 which are satisfactory for web use. I'm sure there is much information on the web about them. One helpful website I've found is:

Images that I put on the web are typically 100 pixels high for thumbnail prints and 300 pixels high for what I call a full size image. My thumbnail files are usually about 5000-8000 bytes while my full size images range from 20,000 to 40,000 bytes. These sizes are very, very important, because they are a big contraint on the experience of the browsing person. Small files download fast while big files may cause very offensive delays for the great majority of people who only have 56kb modems or even slower, or who have a slow (busy) ISP.

BushGore My web images are not nearly as good as many I see. Here is an example of a really good thumbnail image. This is really two images, Gore & Bush, combined into one file of only 7375 bytes. This is the quality we should learn to achieve. It was taken from the website of one of the news services.

Observations on Photoworks

Dave & Lesley have had photos processed by Photoworks, paying extra for "high resolution" which allows them to download images with size 1536x1024. The download file is 9mb with extension .pwp. When viewed with Photoworks software they have an extension .sfw. When converted to tifs using Photoworks software, these become 1536x1024 (w/h) pixels, 21.9x14.6 inches at resolution of 70 pixels per inch and are 4,727,000 bytes in size.

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